Making of Citizen Kane, The

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9780520053670: Making of Citizen Kane, The

Citizen Kane, widely considered the greatest film ever made, continues to fascinate critics and historians as well as filmgoers. While credit for its genius has traditionally been attributed solely to its director, Orson Welles, Carringer's pioneering study documents the shared creative achievements of Welles and his principal collaborators. The Making of Citizen Kane, copiously illustrated with rare photographs and production documents, also provides an in-depth view of the operations of the Hollywood studio system.

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Review:

Ever since Pauline Kael wrote her controversial essay "Raising Kane" (available in print in her omnibus collection For Keeps), film fans and scholars have debated the "authorship" of Citizen Kane. Most audiences and critics agree that it is one of the greatest American movies, but Kael claimed that the genius behind Kane was not writer-director-producer-actor Orson Welles, but coscenarist Herman Mankiewicz. Others attribute the film's power to the influence and contributions of John Houseman or the incredible innovations of cinematographer Gregg Toland. In this superbly researched book, Robert Carringer proves conclusively that Kane is not the product of any individual artist, but the collective work of a brilliant team working under Welles's supervision. Without Mankiewicz, Toland, and the talented designers and technicians who worked on the film, Kane could never have become what it is. As Carringer covers each step of the film's production, from conception to final release, he leads readers through the enormously complex process of making a great movie. He also provides an introductory chapter about an unfilmed project Welles worked on before Kane, an adaptation of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. In his concluding chapter on The Magnificent Ambersons, Welles's follow-up to Kane, Carringer argues that the latter film suffered precisely because its collaborators failed to achieve the artistic harmony that had made Kane so successful. --Raphael Shargel

About the Author:

Robert L. Carringer is Professor of English and Film at the University of Illinois, at Urbana-Champaign. He is also the author of The Magnificent Ambersons: A Reconstruction (California, 1993).

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